Parents of 13-year-old girl killed in Pembroke crash sue alleged drunk driver, Hi-Way Safety, and its owners

The lawsuit says Claire Zisserson, who was killed in the crash, was on her way to N.H. with her mom and friend to go snowboarding.

Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor Claire Zisserson in January.
Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor Claire Zisserson in January. –Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

The parents of the 13-year-old girl killed in a fatal alleged drunken driving crash in Pembroke in December have sued the driver, the company he worked for, and its owners for her death, as well as the injuries her mother suffered in the crash.

Elizabeth and Kenneth Zisserson filed the lawsuit in Plymouth Superior Court on Feb. 7. It names Gregory Goodsell, Hi-Way Safety Systems, couple Kathy Coggeshall Delong and Kenneth Horn, who own the company, as well as an unnamed person, listed as “John Doe,” and an unnamed company, listed as “ABC Corporation.” The lawsuit was posted online by The Patriot Ledger.

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The Zisserons’ daughter, Claire, was killed during the early morning crash on Dec. 29 in Pembroke. Elizabeth Zisserson was driving Claire, and her friend Kendall Zemotel, to New Hampshire to go snowboarding that day, the lawsuit says, and had left home around 6:10 a.m. The girls were in the backseat when, as Elizabeth Zisseron was stopped on Church Street waiting to make a left onto Oak Street, the vehicle they were in was struck by Goodsell, who had reportedly been at the Hi-Way Safety company party at the Knights of Columbus in Pembroke the night before, and then at an after-party at Delong and Horn’s home on Farmside Drive in Pembroke.

Goodsell, 31, faces a variety of charges, including manslaughter, as a result of the crash.

The suit alleges that Goodsell struck the passenger side of Elizabeth Zisserson’s vehicle after he ran a red light. He allegedly struck the vehicle “with such force to cause the Zisserson motor vehicle to move into the south side of the street and come to a stop in the opposite travel lane,” the lawsuit says.

Because of the crash, Elizbeth Zisseron “was severely and permanently injured, suffered and will in the future suffer great pain of the body, nerves and nervous system, was rendered impaired and disabled, has been scarred and disfigured, has suffered and in the future will suffer a loss of the enjoyment of life.”

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The suit also says that Elizabeth Zisserson has lost wages and will continue to, that she can’t perform “usual daily activities” and that she will need to undergo more medical care. The accident also caused Claire Zisserson’s death, the lawsuit says, and her parents are suing under the state’s “wrongful death” law for damages.

The lawsuit alleges that Horn and Delong should have been more careful in serving alcoholic beverages at their home, and that they should have known that Goodsell was drunk.

For the two unnamed defendants, the suit establishes that “John Doe” worked for the “ABC Corporation,” and served alcoholic beverages to Goodsell even though the defendant should have known that Goodsell was impaired, the lawsuit says.

This is the second lawsuit filed against Goodsell, Hi-Way Safety, Horn and Delong. Kendall Zemotel’s family also filed one, noting that Zemotel suffered a traumatic brain injury, among other injuries, as a result of the crash.

Goodsell wasn’t the only Hi-Way Safety employee charged following the party. Francis Paiva III, 36, was also charged with drunken driving, while 31-year-old Omar Calderoni was handed a disorderly conduct charge. Another employee, Joseph Amaral, was found unresponsive in his hotel room and later died.

The state Department of Transportation has since barred Hi-Way Safety from being able to bid on contract work.

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